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Western Caribbean Cruise - Day Two
Apparently the walls in the hotel were on the thin side – we were awoken fairly early by the kids next door, who were also running on the balcony. We got up and walked a few blocks to the IHOP for breakfast. We walked back to the hotel, packed up our things, and checked out. We put our luggage with that of our family and hung out by the pool while we were waiting for our noon shuttle to the cruise ship terminal. It was a beautiful day and it was nice being able to sit poolside in the warm Florida sun. Fawlty Towers was a decent place to stay for a night or two or three, as bookends to a cruise (apparently that is where they get a lot of their business). It’s not a luxurious high-rise resort, but the prices are good, the rooms are clean, the courtyard is nice, and the people are friendly.
We had a different experience with the Cocoa Beach Shuttle on this day – a very friendly woman showed up on time and got us over to the terminal quickly. She was warm and witty and apparently knew everyone at the cruise ship terminal, and she instructed us where to go when we returned a week later.
We had booked a suite on the Carnival Glory so we were VIPs and were able to speed through the embarkation process. (The remainder of our family was occupying 4 cabins on a lower level.) It has been 20 years since either of us cruised and the experience was vastly different. The terminal was sleek and modern and air conditioned and embarkation appeared to be very efficient, even for those who were not VIPs. We were ushered into a waiting area and given seats while we awaited our turn. Then we gave our credit card and each received our card, which served not only as a charge card for things purchased on the ship but also as the key card to our room. We were on the ship quickly. The hostesses in the terminal were very friendly and professional. We did say we know where all the little old ladies in the area are – in the Carnival cruise ship terminal!
We were escorted onto the ship with our carry-on luggage into the lobby and sort of dropped off. Since neither of us had cruised in a very long time, we had no idea what to do next, so Keith asked a Carnival employee. He simply told us we could go up to the Lido Deck (9) and have something to eat while we were waiting for our room, which would be ready around 1:30 p.m. The lobby area (deck 3) was nuts – people seemed delirious, so we went up to deck 9. It was pretty much pandemonium there too. Free glasses of champagne were being distributed and we got some of that. We found a table in a covered area near the main pool and hot tubs and sat down. We ordered a bucket of Coronas (4, which were served in plastic cups with limes). Lori inspected the buffet and came back with a couple hot dogs to hold us over. We observed it was smoky. We didn’t initially realize that the starboard (right) side of the ship had designated smoking areas, while the leeward (left) side of the ship was non-smoking.
After lots of people-watching (children clearly high on sugar were bellyflopping into the pool fully clothed) we went down to our room and were able to get in. Our bags hadn’t yet been delivered but we had enough in our carry-ons to tide us over. We put on bathing suits, SPF, and cover-ups and headed up to deck 9. On Carnival’s website we had discovered there was an adults-only area called Serenity – supposedly there were two hot tubs and lounges. That’s what we were seeking but never found it – we did find the Azure pool area aft (at the back of the ship), with a bar off to one side and two elevated hot tubs. There were kids everywhere, including in the hot tubs (which said no kids under the age of 13). We asked the bartender if this was the adults-only area and he shrugged and said, “With so many kids on the cruise this week, it’s tough to enforce.” We were a bit disappointed with that, especially in light of the fact there were plenty of pool areas for the kids, including a water slide (not to mention children’s activities). Once we got home, we looked again, and it turns out the Serenity area was not on the Glory – bummer! The website is fairly misleading, as we talked to several people who expected to find a retreat away from all the kids. Oh, by the way, since this was a cruise over the holidays, there were 3,000 guests and 600 of those were kids. Yikes!
We cleaned up and got ready for dinner. The Glory has two seatings, at 6 and 8:15 p.m., and we were at the first seating. There were 13 of us altogether, and we had 3 tables that were next to each other. We ate in the golden dining room on the lower level. There are two levels to this dining area. Unfortunately we were in an area where we couldn’t see a lot – actually, considering we weren’t very appreciative of the singing waiter shows, perhaps it was fortunate.
The first night’s food selections were OK but didn’t “wow” us. Of course, if you want two appetizers, you can have them. Same for anything else on the menu. We were trying not to gorge ourselves so we didn’t really avail ourselves too often when it came to doubling up (although Lori didn’t mind doubling up on shrimp cocktail). As the week progressed, we liked our head waiter, but the sommelier really wasn’t much of a presence so we generally ended up ordering wine from the head waiter instead.
After dinner, we set off in search of the karaoke bar, which was located aft on deck 5 in the Ebony Café. The karaoke hostess was British and was quite a card. There were sumptuous circular banquettes in this lounge. We spent a couple hours warbling away to our hearts content, enjoying the smoke-free lounge.
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